Simply Food

Asparagus and Chorizo Salad

By Wendy Monro

I am always trying to discover new ways to cook asparagus. For many years, I cooked it simply with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. I did have the displeasure of eating it boiled and I do not like that one bit. It becomes soft and stringy. I also thing the flavor changes when it is boiled and not in a good way. So, I always grilled or baked my asparagus to keep it crisp and tasty.

Although I didn’t boil it, I didn’t get creative with it. Then, one day, we were eating lunch at Claud’s sister, Maud’s, house. She presented a platter with asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. I thought this was the most amazing pairing of flavors. She wrapped three or four spears at a time in the ham and baked them until they were a little crispy. They were salty, crunchy and delicious. I started making my asparagus this way and did for many years. Maud opened my eyes to new ways of preparing asparagus. Since then, I have tried several different recipes.

This week, I decided to make asparagus with chorizo. I thought this would make an amazing warm salad. I love warm salads. Claud introduced me to these many years ago in one of his restaurants in England. He used to make a warm smoked chicken salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I was obsessed with this salad. I ate it a couple times a week back then. For my asparagus salad, I used vegetarian chorizo but this can be made with regular meat sausage as well. If chorizo isn’t your thing or it is difficult to find, use your favorite sausage or meat substitute. I like chorizo because it is so spicy.

Now that I have worked with asparagus for such a long time, I do have a trick to share with you. If you take one sprig of asparagus and hold it between your fingers at each end and bend it, it will snap. This is where you want to break off all of the sprigs. So, once you have your first example, you can grab a big bunch and break away. Then, you will have the best part of the asparagus without the tough end. You can save the rough bits in the freezer to make asparagus soup when you are ready.

I went ahead and prepared my asparagus this way. Then, I sautéed them in a little olive oil with salt and pepper. I added chorizo, red onion, a hard-boiled egg and some homemade vinaigrette. I always make my own dressing. I never buy the store brands any more. Oddly enough, this habit came about because of Maud too. One year, we made a big salad at her house and she threw together the most amazing salad dressing. I couldn’t believe how delicious it tasted. She inspired me to do the same. From that point on, I have always made my own dressing. I like to experiment with ingredients. I like to add herbs and garlic sometimes. I love including a little Dijon. I always use olive oil but I like to change up the types of vinegar. I have champagne vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegars. Some have a subtle difference in flavor, like the red and white wine while others are completely different like balsamic versus rice. There are so many varieties. It is fun to try many different types to see what you come up with. Sometimes, I don’t even use vinegar and use lemon instead.

When making a dressing, I have to admit that my secret ingredient every once in a while is mayonnaise. I get a little embarrassed when people see me adding it for some reason. I think I feel like its not a healthy ingredient or that I am cheating somehow. I don’t really know. However, it really makes the dressing creamy and delicious. I also like how it changes the color of the dressing. I added a bit this time and it made my dressing creamy, which was just what I hoped for. I drizzled my dressing over the asparagus and chorizo salad and ate this for lunch. It was so delicious and more filling than you would imagine.

Asparagus and Chorizo Salad

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed

salt and pepper to taste

1 package of chorizo sausage, cut into bite sized pieces

1 hard boiled egg, cut into quarters

2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup white wine vinegar

½ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Add the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use tongs to flip them occasionally. Cook for about ten minutes. Remove and place asparagus onto a plate. Place the chorizo pieces to the skillet. If precooked, heat them up for about five minutes. Place these onto the asparagus. Set the eggs around the plate. Sprinkle on the onion. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisk these all together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle this vinaigrette over the asparagus salad. Serve warm.

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